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Real Humans of the Washington University Olin MBA Class of 2024

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Buddy Foster, Washington University Olin’s MBA Class of 2024

Age: 29
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Auburn University (War Eagle!). I double majored in Entrepreneurship Management and Marketing. I also had a concentration in Professional Sales.
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Pre-B-school, I was working for almost 5 years. From consumer-facing healthcare technology to marketing technology to construction, I’ve been in quite a few fields. I also started my own company while I was in my undergraduate program. I would classify all my experience though in the “industry” of sales. I have worked at startups and large corporations, but each was another step in understanding how customers purchased and why.

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I knew I wanted to go to B-school since I graduated from my undergraduate program. I want to be in the Venture Capital space, and having an MBA can be a prerequisite to growing in that space. I started attending informational sessions when I was early on in my career – less than a year after I graduated. However, the more people I spoke to, the more told me that I should first focus on getting some work experience first. I was at a place in my career where I could make a pivot, so I made the decision to jump into it. It has proven to be the perfect time. I have learned quite a bit from my career thus far and I’ve loved getting to see how I have been able to apply it to my studies at Olin.

Why did you choose Washington Olin? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The best piece of advice I was given was to choose a school that fit me, my needs, and my career goals and to not be overly concerned with rankings. Olin is a highly ranked program, which is great, but if it didn’t have a focus and culture around entrepreneurial thinking, then my search may have gone another direction. Further, I looked into the different organizations the school had and how I could get involved. At Olin and WashU there are several clubs and organizations that would allow me to get involved with the startup scene early on. Finally, when I was deciding between the final list, the ability to get to know the professors on a more individual basis had a large impact. At Olin, I am not just another MBA student in a classroom, but the professors really get to know the students. This was clear throughout my research and after talking to multiple students that had been to Olin for their MBA as well.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
I would say that it is a combination of two things: my background and my focus. I have a varied background in multiple different industries, and this offers quite a few different ways to view business problems both in class and outside of it. I’ve worked in everything from coffee/hospitality to technology and even construction. The ability to see problems from different angles is hugely beneficial. I’m also very focused on what I want to do post-MBA. I want to be in Venture Capital, so that really helps me to focus on the areas that will help me most in that field while I’m here at Olin.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I love the outdoors and outdoor sports. I even had a goal that I wanted to have an outdoor sport that I could do in every season. Summer would see me doing trail runs and surfing when I can get to a beach. Fall is outdoor rock-climbing season and some mountain biking (throw some camping in there for good measure too). Winter is snowboarding season. Spring brings back trail running and indoor rock climbing when it begins to get too hot. I’ve also recently bought a road bike and want to get into that as well.

Post-MBA career interests:
I want to go into Venture Capital. I have a background in entrepreneurship and have worked at several startups as well as have had my own. I love the world of high-growth startups and love working with founders who are passionate about the problem they are fixing. Being able to work with founders day in and day out to grow their business is exhilarating to me, so early-stage venture capital is a perfect fit for me. This was something I knew before I began B-school, so I’ve been pretty laser-focused on that since I’ve been here.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Part of writing admissions essays is having the ability to convey your value and personality in a short and concise manner. I’m truly awful with grammar and didn’t want that to get in the way, so I got a professional editor to look over my essays after I wrote them. This was huge as it helped me to be sure that what I wanted to say was being truly conveyed to the audience.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I took both the GMAT and the GRE. I wish that I had done more research into which test was going to be better for me before just jumping into studying. If I had done that, I would have figured out that the GMAT wasn’t my best test, and I could have focused a little more on the GRE.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Absolutely the testing portion. I hated the GMAT/GRE, but I used a local tutor, and that was hugely beneficial. They were able to help me think about the test in the right way and make sure that I was prepared when I showed up.

What is your initial impression of the Olin students/culture/community? Really very impressive. Olin brings in talent from across the world and getting to sit next to each other and hear their perspectives in class has been incredible.

What is one thing you have learned about Olin that has surprised you?
Alumni really do care about the school and want to help current students. Everyone is very proud of having gone to school here and it shows in some big ways.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I wouldn’t say this makes me anxious necessarily, but there are a thousand things I can get involved with here at Olin. Re-learning how to prioritize my time as a student again has probably been the biggest challenge.  

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Probably in the same line of thought as the last question. The organizations and activities I have chosen to invest in get me excited. I can’t do everything, but the things I have chosen to do offer me some really cool opportunities.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
Not in a meaningful way.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.